Within seconds of loading the Winamp Skin Museum I spy a 3D Kenny from South Park, Garfield, and Homestar Runner, a palpable dose of early 2000s internet. Who, 20 years ago, was inspired to create Winamp skins for Mountain Dew Code Red and Pizza Hut? Why did I need a Cowboy Bebop Winamp skin in 2005? Some of life’s mysteries will never be solved, but I could still bathe in this immense collection of some 65,000 skins, which can all be loaded into a browser-based version of Winamp with just a couple clicks. This is software nostalgia at its finest.
The Winamp Skin Museum is a project by Jordan Eldredge, who, along with the Internet Archive’s Jason Scott, collected tens of thousands of skins to preserve on the Internet Archive. That wasn’t a great interface for just casually browsing thousands of skins, though, so he built something better. It’s incredibly quick to search—my first, pre-caffeine attempt of typing “bebpo” actually got me plenty of results. I’m not sure if that means the search function is very smart, or a bunch of skins have typoed metadata, but honestly, it got the job done either way.
By far the coolest feature of the museum is its integration with Webamp, Eldredge’s browser-based version of Winamp 2. Click any skin in the archive, then click the Webamp link at the bottom of the page to load it up. Like this, for example. Don’t even ask me if it includes the Llama Whippin’ Intro built-in. Of course it does.
The Webamp player is interactive, so you can drag its elements around on the screen, resize them, shrink int the compact mini player, etc. You can also load your own music files if you really want to use it. The interface is pretty tiny on a 1440p monitor, so maybe lower your resolution to 1024×768 if you want the authentic experience.
The Winamp Skin Museum is meant to be infinitely scrolling, but I’ve had trouble getting it to load more than one screen of skins, and sometimes it has trouble even doing that. I think the server might be struggling under some unexpected strain as Eldredge’s tweet pulled in quite a bit of attention.
Finally ready to share the Winamp Skin Museumhttps://t.co/ryFQNj4yGdInfinite scroll through 65k Winamp skins with instant search and in-browser interactive preview pic.twitter.com/JbCbtiFAw2September 3, 2020
The comments and replies are delightful, though, as people rediscover skins they made years ago are in the collection. If you’d like a more bite-size dose of Winamp every day, follow the Twitter bot that posts skins every couple hours.